Last November, my mother and I flew to South Carolina, to visit my oldest sister. In advance, we decided to request wheelchairs for both of us, as we navigated our way throughout the airport.
It was much more obvious why my mother would need to use a wheelchair to get around. At the time, she had recently turned age 88. She suffers from age-related osteoarthritis, and she uses a rolling walker to ambulate.
It was far less obvious why I, too, required a wheelchair at that time: my subglottic stenosis was becoming progressively worse. Even with minimal activity, I was finding myself increasingly short of breath. (I knew that yet another throat dilatation surgery was not far off in the future).
Nevertheless, it’s overwhelmingly been my experience that good health is assumed, in the absence of overtly detectable difficulties. I approached the check-in counter, completing all of the required steps.
I mentioned that wheelchairs had been requested. The attendant asked if I preferred to push my mother’s wheelchair myself, versus having an airport employee provide such assistance.
I gently reminded her that wheelchair assistance was requested for both of us. Yet another example of how others make assumptions about those who appear healthy, despite their persistent limitations.